CITY OF MALOLOS—Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. again asked the Bulacan Regional Trial Court (RTC) to transfer him to a safer detention facility during his pretrial on Monday for kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges, in connection with the disappearance of two University of the Philippines (UP) students in 2006.
“The longer I stay in jail, the deeper is the threat to my life. The jail continues to receive new inmates. The threat to my life also becomes a threat to the inmates near me for as long as I stay here,” Palparan said when interviewed in the courtroom.
Palparan has spent two weeks at the Bulacan Provincial Jail since he was committed here on Aug. 18, immediately after his arraignment at the sala of Judge Teodora Gonzales of RTC Branch 14. He was arrested by a team led by the National Bureau of Investigation on Aug. 12 in a house at Sta. Mesa district in Manila after more than two years on the run.
Palparan, known as the “butcher” of political activists during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was held at the NBI headquarters in Manila until Aug. 17.
On Aug. 18, Gonzales ordered Palparan detained at the Bulacan jail, after turning down his appeal to be placed under military custody.
On Monday, Gonzales accepted the motion filed by Palparan’s counsels, Narzal Mallares and Diosab Formilleza, seeking to place their client under the custody of the Intelligence and Security Group at the Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio.
The judge ordered provincial jail warden Pepito Plamenco, the administrator of the Army Custodial Center, the prosecutors and the defense lawyers to present their respective positions on Palparan’s latest petition.
The development disappointed the families of missing UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Concepcion Empeño, mother of Karen, said: “If Palparan needs to fear anyone, it should be the mothers of [the missing UP students] and not the New People’s Army, [which reportedly put out an execution order against the former general]. It is us whom Palparan had injured. He should bring back our daughters.”
The court set Sept. 8 as the new pretrial date.
Mallares said the defense team cited Presidential Decree No. 1638 (the law prescribing the retirement and separation system for military personnel) to argue that Palparan remains an Army reservist officer and deserves to be held at the Army’s detention facility.
Palparan said the new petition stressed that his life was in danger.
He wore a military-issued helmet and a black jacket when he appeared in Gonzales’ sala. He was escorted to the court by a Special Weapons and Tactics team for the pretrial at 10 a.m., and was immediately returned to his cell 30 minutes later.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and counsel for the families of Empeño and Cadapan, assailed Palparan for resorting to “delaying tactics.”